What Else Could I Do Besides Brushing to Help With My Gingivitis?
As with many things in medicine I wish that I had a magic bullet to fix this chronic issue. In our day and age, we are so used to having a medical problem, seeing a doctor and being fixed, so to speak. Take a pill and we are all better.
There are some medical issues that come on rather fast and many times can be treated simply and quickly. This is the 20th and 21st-century medicine that we are privileged to experience and come to expect.
There is another type of medical problem which often shows up as we get older. This type of condition is a chronic one. That means that it lasts for a long time and often times comes on slowly. In fact, it comes on so slowly that we don’t even realize that something is wrong for many years and decades.
As we live longer the odds of us seeing these types of issues increases. Some of these problems are due to things breaking down, others are due to lifestyle.
Two Major Chronic Oral Diseases
When it comes to oral diseases, the two major ones are cavities and gum disease.
We are all aware that what we eat affects cavities. We are taught and learn from a young age that sugar is bad for your teeth. Mouth bugs love sugar and produce acid after their sugar feast, which results in holes in your teeth. These holes are commonly referred to as dental cavities.
With gum disease its a different sort of phenomenon. Gum disease is a broad term and encompasses things like gingivitis and periodontitis. In gum disease, bacteria are involved but they are not the same as in cavities.
When it comes to gum disease we talk about frequent professional cleanings. This is important but will not solve all of our problems.
In addition to seeing a dental hygienist for cleanings, we need to follow up at home with excellent home care. Yes, tedious and boring brushing and flossing is the basis of healthy gum tissue.
Unlike cavities on teeth, gum tissue can go through phases of health and disease. Gums can be turned from a diseased state to one of health. Once a cavity starts, there is no way for it to heal itself. This is a major difference between these two dental problems.
He designed a study in which a group of patients was asked to follow a special diet low in processed carbohydrates and animal proteins but rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins C and D, antioxidants, plant nitrates, and fibers.
The other group did not change their diet and followed a typical Western diet with processed carbohydrates and animal protein.
To take toothbrushing out of the equation, neither group cleaned their teeth at all.
After looking at both groups after 4 weeks, the “healthy diet substantially reduced inflammation of the gums. On the whole, we found a significant reduction of gingivitis of about 40%”, said Dr. Wölber.
Diet Alone Can Reduce Gingivitis
I need to repeat that outstanding and exciting result.
Diet alone reduced gingivitis in the absence of brushing and flossing.
The best diet for overall health, as well as dental health, involves eliminating or at least limiting processed carbohydrates and bad fats (as opposed to healthy fats).
An increase in plant-based whole foods which is filled with plenty of fiber and anti-inflammatory components will fill the void left by avoiding the foods that promote and drive inflammation.
Well, there you have it. The foods that reduce heart attack, stroke and cancer will also help keep the teeth in your mouth to enjoy these great foods.
Remember, life is not an all or nothing. Those foods that promote inflammation can be had on occasion as a treat. Our eating habits and style should not be made up of all treats.
As a dentist, my primary concern for my patients is for the general health and durability of your teeth. Since they get used on a daily basis masticating, the obvious question of their ability to withstand wear, pressure, or damage comes to mind.
How long should my teeth last?
That’s a great question. Those of you who are regular readers probably know the answer to that. So let me put that aside for right now and ask you a question.
“How Long Will You Last”?
Not to be morbid, but of course, it is a legitimate question. In the Global Burden of Disease 2015 Study, dietary factors were the biggest cause of mortality in the U.S. That’s right! In the richest and most prosperous country, the way we eat was the most significant cause of death! In fact, according to a 2013 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that has been around since 1969, increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables could save more than 100,000 lives and $17 billion in health care costs each year from heart disease alone!
The foods that age us
Foods that age us are typically acidic. We in the United States can call these fun foods. They are fun and appealing because we have made them the main foods in our diet. Sugary foods and refined grains, processed foods, and red meat. All of these foods are showing up in association with many diseases.
The ‘Epidemic of Plenty’
Our biggest epidemic…the epidemic of plenty has resulted in too many people being too obese. In fact, the medical community has classified obesity as an ailment in and of itself.
Following along the same lines, heart disease and diabetes with their associated problems have changed happy and productive lives to a treadmill of doctor and hospital visits. Daily pills are the norm, not the exception.
Aging better is possible
We can’t stop aging, but we can control to an extent the quality of life as we age. We can see this addressed in many societies around the world who age much differently than we do.
Dr. Michael Gregor, a leading physician who emphasizes nutrition as the best medicine, echoes this sentiment. He discusses and recommends plants and fruit to stave off many diseases. Many plants have an antiplatelet effect on our system. Platelets cause the blood to become sticky and clot. Clots in our arteries cause heart attacks and strokes. One of the reasons that many of my patients take a baby aspirin daily is to counteract this clotting effect. The aspirin reduces the platelet activity and makes the blood thinner. Isn’t it amazing that plants will do this also, without any possible stomach issues as are those associated with aspirin? Strawberries and other berries will lower activated platelets. These activated platelets are loaded with inflammatory chemicals. So just by eating more fruits and vegetables we can potentially reduce or limit many debilitating disorders the ‘epidemic of plenty’ causes.
Your teeth should last a lifetime.
A plant-based diet can make sure of it.
Now we know the answer to our initial question. Your teeth should last your entire life. The reason is obvious. If we want to live a long and vital life, we need to have a diet that is plant-centric.
We need to be filling the majority of our plates with whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and berries. However, to consume these, we need strong, durable and healthy teeth.
First of all, a plant-based diet eliminates most foods that attack our teeth via their associated stickiness. Sticky foods attract a load of bacteria and the acid that they produce. That’s a fast track to dental cavities. It’s no secret that tooth decay is the number one thing that will compromise the durability of your teeth. Non-inflammatory foods allow our bodies to have greater resistance to disease in general. Including such plant-based foods into your diet translates into healthy gums and strong supporting bone.
Proper tooth maintenance is required
Grinding and chewing these fiber-filled foods efficiently & correctly requires healthy teeth and gums. Therefore, if you break a tooth, you need to have it fixed. In the event a tooth is lost, you need to replace it. Our mouth can be a very efficient device if we take care of it correctly. Unfortunately, many people take care of other machines in their lives better than their mouths. Not only is this disastrous for our oral health, but it is also detrimental to our general health. Proper nutrition can ensure you enjoy both for many healthy years to come.
If it has been a while since you had your teeth checked and evaluated to ascertain their level of health, don’t hesitate to call me.
You can reach me at 440.951.7856. Megan will answer the phone and point you in the right direction.
Oral Hygiene and the risk of stroke. On the surface, these two concepts do not seem interrelated. In reality, along with a proper diet, your oral hygiene can be very instrumental in preventing a stroke.
I Had A Stroke in My Eye Last Weekend!
That was the statement that I heard from a patient when asking about anything new in his medicines or medical conditions. I needed an education on this topic so I asked the patient to explain what that was. The reality of the term is really no different than any other type of stroke. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an eye stroke’s most common symptom is sudden, painless vision loss. Depending on the location, it could result in total loss of vision for the entire affected eye or as in my patient’s case, it affected only part of his eye.
The Academy goes on to say that men in their sixth decade of life are the most likely to experience this. Patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and narrowing of the carotid artery will increase the likelihood of this happening. So what does this have to do with teeth? I will explain that soon.
The following is part of a news release from the American Heart Association: “Saturated fats are found in meat, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils such as coconut, palm, and others. Other types of fats include polyunsaturated fats, found in corn, soybean, peanut and other oils, and monounsaturated fats, found in olive, canola, safflower, avocado and other oils.” They went on to discuss these types of fats. Here are some highlights of their statements:
1. Randomized controlled trials that lowered intake of dietary saturated fat and replaced it with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduced cardiovascular disease by approximately 30 percent –similar to that achieved by cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins.
2. Prospective observational studies in many populations showed that lower intake of saturated fat coupled with higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
3. Replacement of saturated fat with mostly refined carbohydrate and sugars is not associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease(heart disease).
Dr. Kahn went on to say that this ended decades of misinformation that tried to state that this is not necessarily true. Over a century of solid scientific research has pointed to eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while eliminating meat and dairy, will improve the chances of having a better quality of life for decades.
Get through your 60’s without a major health issue, & you’re in good shape
I have always said that if you can get through your 60’s without a major health issue, you were in good shape. It is this decade that years of bad habits and diets show up.
These bad habits build up plaques in the arteries. When these plaques break off and get lodged somewhere they stop the blood flow to that part of the body. In my patient’s case, it was his eye. If it gets stuck in your head, you could die or be permanently impaired due to loss of brain function. In the heart, you will get a heart attack. By eating saturated fats, these are some of the consequences associated with all of this.
A Plant-Based Diet, Oral Hygiene and The Risk Of Stroke
The game plan is obvious. Reduce the intake of these fats and replace this diet with one loaded with fruits and vegetables.
How does one enjoy all these varieties of food? It all starts with my good friends…the back molars. We need to keep our back teeth in great shape in order to ingest and digest these foods properly. Consequently, apples, walnuts, carrots etc are impossible to eat unless we can mash and smash these foods as the first step of digestion. Frequent checkups followed by being receptive to advice will keep our teeth for decades.
“It’s just a back tooth and I don’t really care” is the wrong approach. Wherever possible do everything to save your back teeth. In the event that is not a possibility for whatever reason, then replace them with something strong and stable.
The bottom line is this. Oral hygiene & the risk of stroke are related to one another. You need to incorporate good oral hygiene along with a plant-based heavy diet to reduce your risk for stroke and other related ailments. It’s not just your teeth that benefit. Your whole body does!
If you want to talk to me more about any of this information, please call me at 440.951.7856. I look forward to hearing from you.